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Dear BAM Mentor,
What prayer habits have you found helpful in your business? How have you experienced prayer and hearing direction from the Lord fitting alongside ‘normal’ business practices and hearing from advisors and others?
~ Exploring Prayer
Prayer in a business context can be divided into three types. First, there is personal prayer for strength and guidance from God in matters relating to the Business. Second, there is corporate prayer by those who work in the business, a group of colleagues who are committed to praying for the business and all its stakeholders. Third is engaging individuals or groups outside the business who are well-wishers, family or friends and are committed to praying for the business and/or the people who work in it. I want to share some thoughts and personal experiences for all three:
I believe that the entrepreneur’s dependence on God is no different from that of a missionary working in a hostile environment. The world of business is fraught with dangers, temptations and opposition. We live and work in a fallen world that embraces values which are contrary to those of God’s Kingdom. Besides the constant onslaught of the enemy, there are ups and downs in any business over a period of time. To hang in there during hardship requires nothing short of total dependence on God. I have had to lean on God and He has carried me through difficult seasons in a manner that seems most often found in the lives of missionaries I read about. An incident that I recall of such an experience is when one of my colleagues took away important company information and a few relationships as he went and joined a competitor. I remember feeling crushed by the betrayal of trust. I became bitter and guarded in my relationships with others in the company. After a couple of weeks I was on a long flight and read the biography of Adoniram Judson. I realized that he was betrayed multiple times but each time he went on with his work with joy and resolve having been strengthened by his disciplined prayer life. One of his famous quotes is, “Our prayers run along one road and God’s answers by another, and by and by they meet.” As I took this matter to God in prayer I felt the burden roll off my back.
Quite early in our walk with the Lord we learn that there is something powerful in coming together with others in prayer. We find Biblical basis for this phenomenon in Mathew 18:19, 20. Right from the earliest days of my own business, those of us in the company who are followers of Christ gathered together regularly to pray. During such times we bonded together as one family, we encouraged one another, forgave each other our shortcomings and learned from insights that we shared with each other as we listened to God. To this day our management team meets every Tuesday for 30 minutes exclusively to pray. At our office in India we have daily devotion right before the start of the work day. While it is not mandatory for anyone to attend, we find that both Christians and non-Christians come to listen to God’s word and for a time of prayer for His mercies throughout the workday. Some of our colleagues placed their faith in Christ when they found their prayers answered in supernatural ways. Others were strengthened in their faith or found comfort and peace amidst the stress and turmoil of life. I can’t think of a single instance when someone complained against this practice.
Sometimes it is possible to enlist people outside a business to pray for it and when that happens, it is an unspeakable joy for those who work in that business. A few years ago our company was serving a client in Texas who had a team of intercessors. As they worked with us on an important project for their growth as an organization, they prayed regularly for us and they felt led to travel to our office in India and pray for our team there – as we were the main vendor building their software. This was an unbelievably generous gift to us. We were thankful to have their project, but this contribution to our success through their intercession for us was over the top. One of the outcomes of this unique partnership resulted in our company guest house being used for a church plant! Another outcome is that we decided to engage a couple of praying friends to intercede for our business and for those who work in it on a weekly basis. While I did not seek advice on business matters from them, I shared prayer requests and praise reports with the intercessors so that they could join me in praying for these items. If there is a possibility to do so, I recommend any Christian businessperson to seek intercessors for the business. It can have a significant impact on the business and on the lives of those who work in it.
Ultimately, prayer is a spiritual discipline. It is also an incredible privilege that we have as sons and daughters of the King of Kings, who grants us direct and open access to approach Him through prayer. Therefore, I do not espouse “outsourcing prayer” to others, but that the three types of prayer can be employed in tandem within a business context. If pressed, I would go a step further and recommend that they be used in the same order of priority as I have listed them above.
by Joseph Vijayam
More Responses on this topic:
Whatever we attempt for God has to be in accordance with His will and be blessed by Him if we are to see genuine success (in the heavenly definition of success). This is true for every venture, whether operated under the auspices of a local church, a Christian organisation or an overtly commercial business venture. In fact, because of the pressures and expectations that the world brings to bear on business ventures, it is all the more important to ensure close communion and communication with God. Whatever this may mean in practical terms, it has to include prayer.
The most obvious biblical instruction about how we should pray is Jesus’ introduction to His model prayer – that which most people refer to as the Lord’s Prayer – as recorded in Matthew 6. What these instructions boil down to is: keep it sincere, keep it personal (you and God) and keep it short and to the point. How this operates in practice will vary according to local circumstances. Our own experience was developed over a short time but then served the business well for many years – but not without some hiccups along the way, it may be added. […Read more]
Early in our history, while I was still segmenting my life pretty well, the Lord spoke to four of our leaders within 48 hours. He said to each of us that we had to begin meeting to pray. We had allowed the security problem here in our location to become an excuse to not get together. We began that week and continued every week for over 15 years. It wasn’t easy. Two of the people became car sick every time they rode the bus to my house. It eventually blended into a church prayer meeting.
One of the most significant events after that was one afternoon when one of the local people who met weekly to pray, approached me with his dissatisfaction not just of our prayer life the rest of the week, but he was questioning if we were actually trusting God for the huge challenges we were facing. Immediately, I repented and we went out to the street and began praying as we circled the block for the next two hours. It shifted our thinking and we were much more aware of the need to pray together for the employees, suppliers, customers, etc. After that afternoon he and I would meet everyday about 5pm and walk the production line together, taking that day’s problems and praying them back to the Lord. Our goal was to pray until we were no longer worried about what happened that day. The test was to see if we could look each other in the eye and not find any worry. If we were still worried we prayed again until we felt we were not taking home our problems, but were actually leaving them with the Lord. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. […Read more]
Joseph Vijayam is Managing Director of Olive Technology, a business as mission company based in India and USA that provides IT services. Joseph, manages the company’s overall business planning and corporate strategy. Prior to founding Olive he served as the Chief Executive of Matrix Computer Consultancy in India. He has employed his extensive track record in empowering various for profit and not-for-profit organizations in India and the USA. Joseph is a member of BAM Global Advisory Board and Senior Associate of Technology for the Lausanne Movement.
Joseph serves as a regular mentor for the Ask a BAM Mentor column.